The Irvin Department’s current exhibit, “More than a Southern Author: Influences and Impact in the Works of Ron Rash,” explores the newly acquired Ron Rash Archive by highlighting the author’s allusions and references to other literary classics within his works. Drawing from the Irvin Department’s holdings, this exhibit pairs Rash’s manuscripts with works of other authors, from handwritten manuscript by Pat Conroy to Shakespeare’s 2nd Folio from 1632.
The Ron Rash Archive, the comprehensive collection of award-winning, internationally bestselling contemporary author Ron Rash, has found a home in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
Rash is a triple threat– writing and publishing poetry, short stories and novels. Rash’s intensely regional works reveal deep universal truths. Among his numerous awards, three of his novels have been New York Times Best Sellers, he was twice nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2010 and this year Rash was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction. Rash’s recent popular success comes as no surprise to those familiar with his decades long career. Rash has written seven novels, four poetry compilations and six short story anthologies beginning with The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth in 1994. His most recent work of fiction, The Risen, was published in late 2016. His first published work, a short story titled “Turtle Meat” was published in 1978.
Born in Chester, South Carolina and raised in western North Carolina, Rash’s works are grounded in the American South and are informed by his family’s history and the history of the region. His grandparents moved to Buncombe County, North Carolina to work at Eureka Cotton Mill and his mother and father met while employed at the mill. Rash would title his first book of poetry, Eureka Mill.
However, Rash is much more than a southern author. Rash admires and is often compared to William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor but his works also show his connection to the works of a myriad of authors from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Walt Whitman. Works from all of these authors and others are included in this exhibit, drawing direct parallels between the works and Rash’s personal history and influences using archival material from the Ron Rash Archive.
The exhibit is on display in the Brittain Gallery and the Irvin Department Gallery in The Hollings Special Collections Library until July 31. An audio tour is available as a compliment to the exhibit at the Reading Room desk.
Jessica Crouch, Archivist
Irvin Department of Rare Books & Special Collections